2005-11-19 / CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY /
The nation's top agricultural official said yesterday that if the government has to cull poultry on a large scale in the event of an avian flu outbreak, it will compensate the losses of poultry farmers "based on market prices."
Lee Chin-lung (李金龍), chairman of the Council of Agriculture, made the remarks when he was invited by the legislative caucus of the opposition Taiwan Solitary Union to report on the government's preparations for the possible onslaught of avian flu.
Lee said that experience in other countries has shown that if the extermination of poultry is not thorough enough in an avian flu outbreak, surviving chickens, ducks and geese could well become loopholes in disease prevention.
He noted that Taiwan is still avian flu-free, although neighboring countries such as Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam have become infected.
Taiwan has heightened its alert against avian flu, he said, adding that the COA has strengthened monitoring of migratory birds as well as birds in captivity. The Coast Guard Administration (海巡署) has also stepped up a crackdown on bird and poultry smugglers, and the Department of Health has stepped up research on the avian flu virus, he added.
"The avian flu control has been raised to a national security level," he added.
DOH Vice Minister Chen Shih-chung, speaking on the same occasion, said that human-to-human transmission of the avian flu is still limited.
Chen said that according to the latest avian flu report from the World Health Organization, there are currently only three cases of human-to-human transmission so far.
As of November 17, 130 people around the world are confirmed to have been infected, the WHO said.
He said that most of these cases have occurred from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces; however, it is thought that a few cases of human-to-human spread of H5NI virus have occurred. So far, spread of the H5N1 virus from person to person has been rare, he added.